You’d think after millennia of people traveling, not to mention how quickly the world has shrunk with access to the Internet, that we would have seen it all.
But here are four beautiful and intriguing highlights from places that might not be as familiar. If you’d like a full list from National Geographic of the best trips for 2018 – some familiar, some not – check it out here.
If you’re craving a break from busy-ness and noise, Haida Gwaii will give you the silence you’re longing for. A 180-mile-long archipelago off the coast of British Columbia is the ultimate getaway for nature lovers. May-September is the summer season, with more tourist services available, and a greater chance of seeing spectacular wildlife like the Orca migration. But if you’re into surfing, try October-May for the best waves.
To get a feel for what life was like for the Vikings, hop a ferry from Denmark or Iceland and check out the Faroe Islands. Located about 400 miles off the coast of Northern Europe and accessible by flights and ferries year-round, the Faroe Islands are ringed with dramatic green cliffs that plunge into the ocean, sparkling bays, and breathtaking Nordic scenery. In the city of Gjógv, stay in an authentic sod-roofed hotel and take hikes up into the mountains with a spectacular view of the gorge below. Go in July or August for mild temps and long days.
A hidden travel gem lies in the Western Baltics, which is already a somewhat-unknown region that is brimming with breathtaking scenery and a proud cultural heritage. The Via Dinarica is a year-round adventurer’s wonderland. Love gorgeous summer hikes and biking tours? May-September, this trail stretches through 1,200 miles of varied terrain and eight different countries. If you’re into skiing and snowshoeing, hit the Via Dinarica from January to mid-March for a pristine wonderland. Stay in remote mountain shelters, or immerse yourself in centuries-old tradition by staying with local host families.
We see a lot of Japan’s bustling cities, its towering skyscrapers, its industry, its bright lights. But if you’re interested in reclining into the contemplative heart of Japan, seek out Koyasan, a pristine monastic complex two hours south of Osaka by train and the seat of Japanese Shingon Buddhism. Many temples here offer guest rooms, and you can get a feel for what monastic life is like in the lush, misty mountain interior. Savor the simple flavors of clean Buddhist eating, take in morning rituals, or hike by lantern and moonlight along winding green mountain paths. After the intense and amazing sensory experiences that the large urban areas of Japan provide, Koyasan really is the perfect retreat into silence, simplicity, and mystery.
One of the many reasons I love what I do as a travel agent is that there is just so much to see, to take in, and to learn. We all have the amazing opportunity to launch out into new places, to find some new adventure that will change us forever — and I love getting to be a part of that process.
If you’re feeling that pull to places that are new to you, contact me today and let’s start planning your next adventure!
Expedition cruising is a new type of holiday. It’s growing in popularity, but what is it?
Expedition cruising is an adventure. It’s not cabaret and cocktails by the pool. It’s a voyage of explorational that enables you to experience some of the world’s remote locations. Vessels take less than 100 passengers. The experience is intimate and real. It’s boots and wet weather gear, not glitz and sparkle. Itineraries are active, inclusive, and educational. Expect to get up close and personal with nature.
Expedition cruising is not for everyone. Is it for you?
Where can I go?
There are some amazing destinations to choose from. Here are three ideas to get your juices flowing.
Alaska is home to humpback whales, harbor seals, bears, bald eagles, sea otters, puffins, sea lions, orcas, and salmon.
Alaska is so vast and magnificent that the scenery will make you feel small as you view it from the bow of your boat. The glaciers you’ll cruise past are ethereal, and the mountains will dwarf your vessel as it passes through narrow channels in a never-ending scrolling vista of natural beauty.
The captain and crew are always on the lookout for wildlife, and you’re invited to keep a keen eye out for the tell-tale signs of whales.
Hikes into the forest are tailored to suit fitness levels and are accompanied by knowledgeable guides who aim to deepen your understanding of this natural habitat.
You’ll use the zodiac to explore and to access places the main vessel can’t. Kayak trips treat you to a waterline experience that’s hard to beat. Peacefully paddle past nesting birds and enjoy the thrill of eyeballing sea lions and harbor seals.
Giant tortoise, sea turtles, sea lions, a raft of migratory and endemic birds, iguanas, and penguins can be seen on The Galapagos.
The Galapagos is the location famed for Charles Darwin’s insight that sparked his theory of evolution. Wildlife evolved here in isolation. Today, it remains the only place in the world to see some species. Darwin’s famed finches’ number among these endemic species you’ll see.
Nearly all of the area is protected, which has preserved this unique environment. The wildlife has no fear of humans, so your wildlife encounters are substantially different from any other location, anywhere in the world.
Your vessel is your base that moves between islands to allow you to hike, snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard at a variety of different locations. If you’re a scuba diver, look for itineraries that have the option for a dive; you won’t regret it.
Penguins. Penguins. Penguins. The variety of species and scale of their colonies in the region is hard to overstate. They are truly fascinating, and their behavior is entertaining beyond measure.
Leopard seals take on the role of a villain against the penguin’s capering. They’re the apex predator to be found lounging on ice floes. Cruising past them on a zodiac is thrilling. Crabeater and fur seals grace the water too.
Whales are a common sight, and the captain and crew are always on the lookout for fin, humpback, minke, sperm, and killer whales.
The Antarctic is remote and wild, and these expeditions are designed to immerse you in their beauty. Zodiac trips take you alongside glaciers. Kayak tours allow you to experience the deepest silence, and you can wander amongst penguins with your camera. Some trips allow you to explore by ski or snowshoe too.
Am I Fit Enough For An Expedition Cruise?
You don’t have to be a marathon runner or even a runner at all, but to get the most out of this type of holiday, it does help if you are relatively active.
You will need to be comfortable with getting in and out of a Zodiac, and understand that shore landings often involve wading through knee-deep water and squelching through mud. You might find this more fun than you expect.
Many guests on these trips will be taking part in activities new to them, and you will be under the instruction of an experienced leader. If you’re open to new experiences and have a positive attitude, it will go along way towards your enjoyment. Your sense of achievement will keep you smiling long after the holiday has passed.
Where a strenuous hike is offered, there’s usually a less challenging activity as an option too, and know that nothing is compulsory.
All that said, if you are unsure, speak to the company you’re considering traveling with. They have the experience to be able to guide you. If you do have medical conditions that you’re worried will affect your enjoyment or even restrict you, speak to your physician. Someone familiar with your medical history is much better qualified to determine what’s suitable.
If you’re reading this with the knowing smile of someone who’s already experienced an expedition cruise, tell us what your favorite bit was. It might give someone else that last push towards an unforgettable experience.
Vacations, even simple weekend getaways, can be full of adventure — that’s part of the great appeal, after all — but if you value a delicious, high-quality meal along with your adventure, then check out these four apps for different travel needs that can direct you to the best places to savor a great meal.
Make the most of your trip and the food you enjoy while on your next adventure! Give one (or more!) of these apps a try and let me know what you think.
New York Times writer Susan Heller famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
Even when we have great intentions, it’s easy to overload our suitcases. We wind up dragging a lot of stuff around. There’s more to keep track of; it winds up being a lot of physical and mental clutter. And, of course, we wind up paying a ton of extra fees for the additional weight and luggage.
So, rather than viewing efficient packing as a practice in minimalism, I like to think of it as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need, you’re freed up to not have to lug around a bunch of extra weight, and you can put that saved money towards a special souvenir, a nice dinner out, or another cool experience.
So what are the secrets that seasoned travelers use to guarantee expert packing? Here are the top 6:
If you’re ready to pack for an adventure, I’d love to talk to you about it. I know we can find a place that’s just right for you — and I’ll even give you insider tips packing suggestions for your specific destination! You can reach me today!
Sleeping well on a plane has developed into a certain kind of art — and into a healthy business — with savvy travelers constantly scoping out new ways to make long flights more conducive to actual rest. Here are a few that really seem to have some payoff.
Splurge on a better seat. Sure, not everyone can afford a premium seat in first or business class, where you can take advantage of fully- or almost-fully-reclining seats and loads of leg room. But for long-distance flights, it can still be worth it to spend the extra money on an exit-row seat, a bulkhead seat, or a window seat. Flying on off-peak days, like a Tuesday evening, will also increase the likelihood that the flight will be less crowded and quieter.
Do the best you can with flight times and direct flights. While crossing many time zones always poses its own sleep challenges, do your best to pick a flight time and schedule that will sync up most naturally with your sleeping and waking times. Leaving in the evening will work better than trying to get REM at three in the afternoon.
Know your cues. Which side of the bed do you sleep on at home? Book on that side of the plane. Do you usually have a cup of tea before bed? Bring a few packets of your favorite herbal. And grab your own small travel blanket and comfy slippers while you’re at it (the airline pillow or blanket can be used for extra cushioning or lumbar support if you like). Spritz your pillow with a mild lavender essential oil. The more familiar things you can do, the more your brain will recognize the cues that it’s time for rest.
Sweet darkness, sweet silence. On most trans-oceanic flights, you’ll see the blue glow of nearly every seatback screen flickering, no matter the time. We know that the type of light emitted by screens is proven to disrupt sleep. For any rest at all — let alone good rest — keep your screen off. Bring an eye mask or cap to block out as much light as possible. Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to create the quietest environment you can.
Buckle up over the blanket. When the plane hits turbulence, flight attendants are required to make sure people are safely buckled in. If they can’t see that your seat belt is fastened, they have to disturb you to check. Make it easy for them and for you — simply click the buckle over the blanket.
Rather than paying more for less in the airport, do some quick research before you leave to find the best travel pillow for you. There are dozens to choose from, and they range widely in price, portability, and visual quirkiness. Check out reviews like this one from the Travel + Leisure — and note how the reviewer coordinates the best pillows with each type of sleeper. Chances are, there’s a pillow out there that will support your head and neck and give you the rest you need.
What are your best tips for getting good sleep on an airplane? I’d love to hear them. And if you’re ready to plan your next (well-rested) journey, I’m here to help!
People are always talking about taking their “dream vacation” — but largely what people mean when they say this is that every detail of the trip was planned flawlessly, everything went according to plan, and the service and food were stellar.
But what if the key to having the best vacations of your life has as much to do with how you approach traveling as it does with where you go and the number of stars on your hotel?
Here are 5 Traveler’s Resolutions you can make right now to make this the best year of travel yet:
A common thread among these resolutions is the ability to let go of anxiety, relax and enjoy yourself. Hiring a Travel Professional is one of the best ways to avoid the most stressful parts of travel altogether. I can do all the planning, handle all the details, and you get to enjoy. I will also be on call for you while you are on your trip to handle any complications or emergencies that may come up. Let me take all the stress out of organizing and leave all the pleasure to you. Click the link below to contact me today!
Reawaken Your Soul (and Stomach) by Traveling on an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Journey
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love explores simple pleasures and pizza in Italy, devotion in India, and love in Bali, bringing readers with her on a one-year journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Taking the bookshelves by storm in 2006, the book spent more than 200 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, eventually translating into a movie starring Julia Roberts and selling over ten million copies worldwide. As a result, readers have been inspired to begin their own soul searching, and perhaps even more noteworthy, to travel more as part of a journey to self-discovery. After the ten-year anniversary of the book in 2016, Elizabeth Gilbert released Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It, which chronicles the stories of more than fifty people who were inspired to make a big change, from taking a solo road trip to chasing their dreams of teaching abroad.
Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the memoir, it has undoubtedly changed the lives of its readers and prompted transformative trips around the globe. While people may not have a full year, like Gilbert, to immerse themselves in destinations, there are thoughtfully designed itineraries that encompass these cultural and educational experiences in one to three week long itineraries. Most notably, the Eat, Pray, Love travel Learning Journeys Series which offers immersive, women-focused itineraries across the world.
Based on your interests, trips may focus on cooking, dancing, yoga, photography, and more. You can even travel to Malta, India, or Greece with a group of like-minded adventurers by organizing your own private tour with ten of your family members, friends, or members from your book club. The trip is entirely customizable based on your group’s interests. Want to go hiking? Practice knitting techniques? Learn to belly dance? Whatever it is, every traveler will find something that fills their hearts and feeds their soul on their own journey to self-discovery and empowerment. Here are some of my favorite trips for 2019.
For a focus on wellness, gastronomy, and fashion, the Mystical Malta eight-day trip takes place in Gozo, Medina and Valetta, offering a hands-on cooking class and a trip to a local horse farm. Travelers will learn the sustainable art of painting, jewelry making and ceramics from a local artist at her studio and there’s a chance to visit the fashion house of Charles and Ron, renowned international fashion and lifestyle designers who have a distinct Mediterranean flair.
A transformative journey to the birthplace of Western Civilization and the land of muses, gods, and goddesses, the Greek Goddess Journey of Wellness In Crete offers an eight-day itinerary that includes daily yoga and meditation, a lesson in Greek dancing, and cooking classes with a local figure. There’s ample time to experience wine tasting and experience the vibrant culture of the city.
The sacred land of Bhutan, untouched by the modern world, offers sacred temples, ultimate peace and serenity, and a warm local community with the 14-day Sacred Bhutan- The Land Of Happiness trip. The itinerary includes visits to the well-known Tiger’s Nest Monastery and the Kyichu Lhakhang Buddhist temple. Enjoy your meals in the sunshine, explore the museums, and learn traditional Bhutanese weaving.
The 11-day sojourn, Spiritual Northern India, is designed for personal reflection and growth. In addition to visiting key destinations like the Taj Mahal and Red Fort, travelers can shop for sarees at the market with a local fashionista, participate in community service projects including a visit to a girl’s orphanage, take cooking lessons, meet an astrologer, and much more.
Contact Us to help plan your Inspiring Journey. Book a 30 minute Exotic Travel Planning Session
As you get ready to embark on your own summer vacation, here’s a quick list of smartphone apps that can help you get organized, find great deals, and save you money along the way.
There are tons of apps to explore, of course, and this is just a glimpse — but these should add some fun and help you plan and save a few dollars. Once we’ve worked together to plan your awesome summer vacation, give these apps a try and let me know how it goes!
Book A Complimentary Exotic Travel Planning Session Here.
There are, of course, thousands of possible trips out there. There are plenty of great trips to choose from — and then there are trips that are great for you. Being honest about what you want and need and getting to know your own personal travel profile can save you from the but-it-looked-great-on-paper trip disappointment.
Here are a few simple things that can help you better understand your unique and personal travel profile:
When you take a little time to get to know how you travel best, your vacation can be more than just fun; it can actually be fulfilling. And you can come home refreshed, energized, and brimming with great new memories.
Are you ready to start planning an incredible experience for yourself or your whole family? Contact us today and let us help you get there! Book a complimentary Exotic Travel Planning Season. Just click here.
Europe is a vacation that most people dream about, from the Swiss Alps to the ocean waves in Malta or the quaint cafes around each corner, there is a little something for everyone. However, with such a variety of activities it can be hard to know what to do, where to go, or even how to pack for your trip. That’s where I come in. I recently just did my first trip to Europe and I was definitely not as prepared as I could have been. I have taken note of things I would recommend to future newbies so that you all don’t have to struggle your way through like me.
The most important thing that I took away from my trip is to buy a big backpacking backpack and backpack your way through Europe. I decided to glam-pack. I brought my suitcase and purse, which I thought would be fine because that is what I have done on all my other trips. My oh my, did I underestimate the cobblestone. It is EVERYWHERE. You will never not have cobblestone streets in Europe and rolling a fifty-pound suitcase across the cobble stone to catch the train to your next city is not ideal. In fact, it is quite exhausting and that is not what we want to spend our energy on while on vacation.
The cobble stone isn’t the only obstacle with using a wheeled suitcase. Don’t forget about the stairs that often to lead to the metro lines. You will have to drag your bag down to the train platform and back up again. It doesn’t sound that horrible, but often times you’ll have to transfer train lines which means that you’ll have multiple stair cases to haul that bag up and down. Unless you’re craving a good workout, I would suggest ditching the suitcase.
Buy the backpack. It seems like a hassle, but you’ll thank me for it later.
As you’re searching for your backpack to bring on your adventure, search for comfortable shoes. I decided to be all cute because all over Instagram you see girls and guys dressing like they are hitting the New York Fashion Week runway. I learned really quickly that being cute was not the best idea. I had packed a new pair of flats because they were so precious and would make so many outfits look just adorable. What isn’t adorable is the scars that I will have on my ankles from the blisters I got walking around Paris all day in shoes that were not broken in.
Tip number two, wear comfortable shoes or at least break in all of your shoes before trying to get the best Insta pics.
While grabbing those comfy shoes make sure you pick out versatile outfits. Things that you will be able to wear again and mix and match with other clothing items. Solid colored tops that you can layer with sweaters, jackets, and scarfs make for the perfect items to pack. They can be worn again with different layers and look like a completely different outfit. No one will know that you wore that shirt three days ago in a different country.
Lastly, go in with an open mind and be flexible. With so many things to do and see it will be hard to see everything you want to on your first trip. Keep an open mind. It isn’t the end of the world if you miss one sight. Hopefully you’ll be back in your lifetime. Being flexible is key to a successful trip. If something is closed that day, come up with a backup plan and don’t think twice. You don’t have a lot of time, so why waste it being upset or wishing you were doing something else?
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